Wall Street Pit

Whats the Next and First Big Broadband Application?

We are in the broadband era. There have been stairstep increases in broadband speeds on a market by market basis across the country and the world. As fiber and Docsis 3.0 enter markets, providers jack up their download speeds to 50 and even in some cases 100mbs. That’s great. Speed is always what we need. But what has it brought us so far?

To date, the best and brightest among you have not been able to create and deliver any new applications that take advantage of magnitudes higher of broadband. Not in the U.S., not elsewhere around the world that I have seen. It seems to me that the most popular use of bandwidth that we have been able to come up with is retransmitting TV, Movies and User Generated Content over the net. Maybe we can add online gaming. Replacing consoles in the cloud. Then there is online backup. (disclosure , im an investor in Filesanywhere) That’s all I can think of. Is that the best we can do with our bandwidth?

Of course not. There are medical, security, engineering, defense and even shared processor applications in private networks. But where are they for the net? You can’t blame cable and telco ISPs. While bandwidth to the home may be limited, thats not the case at universities and corporations. Its not hard or expensive to buy cloud computing from the likes of Amazon, or to put a server next to gigabits of bandwidth at hosting centers. The opportunity to invent new apps or to convert high end commercial apps is there. Why dont we see them available to us?

I’m a believer that there will be new high bandwidth applications that are truly beneficial to society that start to appear in the next 5 years. I also believe that there will be “bandwidth viruses”, hackers will be able to wipe out 100pct of your bandwidth and everything and anything you want to do by simply hosting P2P applications on unsuspecting host computers in our homes that send and receive hundreds of megabytes of noise. If that doesn’t work, the little kid next door can encode his softball game at 20mbs or more per second and get all his buddies around town to continuously receive the stream. Thats all it takes to slow your internet connection to a crawl. In a net neutrality world, he has every right to do that as often as he likes. Unless of course there are bandwith limits.

The point is that the concept of “open internet” where you can use any and all bandwidth how you want, when you want, is very, very flawed. I agree that we should not segregate or discriminate by protocol or destination. That creates a hierarchy of problems. Bits are agnostic. They dont care what they hold, where they originate or what their destination is.

At some point, we have to recognize that in order for high bit rate applications to succeed , at the levels of latency they require, we need a way for people to buy the bandwidth and performance they need, dedicated to the application they want to run. If you need or want more bandwidth for the high end applications that appear, you should pay for them.